Sorrow and joy

“Not a viable pregnancy.” I squeezed the phone and willed myself to keep listening as those four words settled onto my heart. The Friday morning call with my doctor was a short one and it confirmed our suspicions all along, but I still felt its impact in every part of my body.

That was over a month ago. And, in the weeks leading up to that call, phrases like “threatened miscarriage” and “lab results” and “hormone levels” had become a daily part of mine and T’s vocabulary. Upon learning of our first pregnancy, our joy and excitement were tempered with caution and anxiety, as symptoms that suggested something may not be quite right started to appear. After a battery of doctor appointments and tests, our fears were confirmed. We had experienced an early miscarriage; something our doctors referred to as a “false pregnancy.”

The thing is, there was nothing false or fake about the pain and the loss we felt when we learned that the sweet, healthy baby we’d been praying for wouldn’t be joining our family. We were heartbroken. We felt as though the rug had been pulled right out from under our feet, and in the days following that phone call we came to know what David meant when he wrote Psalms 6:6: “I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears.” 

We were incredibly sad, but as we began to process and pray through the pain, something else started to emerge. You see, Psalms 6:6 wasn’t the end of David’s story, and it’s not the end of ours, either. In fact, just a few chapters later, he writes this: “The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.” (Psalms 9:9)

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Over the past few weeks, we’ve experienced and understood those words in a new and deeper way. In our pain, we’ve been reminded time and again of the goodness and greatness of the God we serve. A God who sees our tears and draws us closer to Him. A God who remains in control, even when our worlds are turned upside down. A God who not only saw our hurting but understood it because He, too, felt the loss of a child–His one and only Son in a gruesome death on a cross.

Even still, we know that like David, Jesus’ story didn’t end in dying and defeat, but in the glorious resurrection that conquered death once and for all. And in this season of life, more than any other before, I’m learning that because of Jesus—because of His victory—sorrow and joy are not mutually exclusive. You see, Jesus’ story of resurrection and life also belongs to those who follow Him, and that means that we can sing His praises in the midst of our most sorrowful moments. God is showing me that, even in the darkest of valleys, we have joy in the proof of our past and the promise of our future; that the facts of our “right now” last only a moment, but the truth of the Father is forever. And it’s because of that eternal truth that, even in the middle of our fear and suffering and utter confusion, we can believe that God is using our stories—our messy, painful stories—to produce fruit in us and grow His Kingdom. It’s here where we discover meaning and purpose for a dire situation that seems otherwise impossible to understand; it’s here where we find beauty in the brokenness.

Now more than ever, I understand that when we’re hit with trials or heartaches that can’t be fixed or explained away, we face a very real, very difficult choice. We can allow sadness to fester and turn to anger and doubt and bitterness. Or we can—against all odds and our own instincts—rejoice in the truth that the God who was present and faithful when life was easy and right is the same God who holds and protects us when our days feel long and dark and lonely. Don’t misunderstand; this rejoicing was not something that came naturally for me. It wasn’t instant or easy or even something that was possible on my own. It’s taken weeks of prayer and wrestling for this truth to travel from my head and take root in my heart. But every step of the way, God has so graciously and patiently waited, with gentle reminders of His love and His permanence. His Word has become more real to me and His people have encouraged me like never before. By His grace, I can walk into the future without fear or bitterness, but with joy and confidence.

T and I have talked about how, when we moved from Kentucky to Florida in June, we knew that this year would bring new challenges that would draw us closer to God and to each other. But neither of us imagined or anticipated the ups and downs that we’ve experienced in such a short amount of time.  In the months and years to come, there’s no doubt that we will look back on February 2017 with sadness. We will always mourn this loss, but I hope that we also remember something else about this difficult season. I hope we remember the comfort and strength that wasn’t our own, and how we learned to trust God and lean on His understanding more deeply than ever before. I hope we remember that, even when we are shaken, He remains unmovable and steadfast. He remains confident and sure and true to His Word. He remains all-powerful and worthy of all praises. He remains.

Until next time,

M

A time to dream

Let’s be honest. Over the last several weeks, I have been avoiding this blog like the plague. I could attribute my absence to the fact that T and I have been busy preparing and traveling for the holidays or make a number of other excuses, but the truth is that I have been seriously lacking in inspiration. And, if you’ve ever done any sort of writing in your life, you know that there’s nothing scarier than staring at a blank, stark white computer screen without even the slightest idea of how to fill it.

Of course, in my experience, the best way to cure writer’s block is to just sit down and start typing. But it’s the sitting down, the actual starting. that can be absolutely intimidating and down right sweat-inducing. Case in point: Earlier this week, I wrote “BLOG” in all capital letters with an unnecessary number of exclamation points in my planner as my only to-do task for Saturday (today). My progress so far? It’s currently just after lunch and I’ve already finished cleaning and reorganizing all of my kitchen cabinets, vacuuming the floor, listening to three podcasts and watching two episodes of “How I Met Your Mother”.

I scrubbed cabinetry in order to avoid doing something that I love to do. When I spell that out—when I type those words on this screen and think about the fact that you’ll be reading them—it feels so silly. But isn’t that so often how we approach our lives?

Over the past several weeks, God has been showing me how I’ve adopted this habit of filling my time with purposeless tasks to avoid thinking about or doing things that actually matter; things that excite me, or have the potential to make a real impact. I have become conditioned to want to know what’s waiting on the other side–to have it all figured out and analyzed and perfectly planned–before I take even a baby step, much less a leap. And when I don’t have all the answers? Well, my cabinets may end up squeaky clean, but my feet stay firmly planted.

I think we’ve grasped on to this ritual of playing hide and seek with the ideas or goals or longings that matter most to us because it’s these things that involve the most vulnerable parts of who we are. They take hold of our emotions and our innermost beings and it can feel so scary to dream about what it would look like to really pursue them. So, we don’t. We keep slugging through our daily tasks, and we fill our empty time with Instagram and Netflix and maybe even reorganization projects so that we don’t have to think about those things we’re not doing but secretly wish we were.

A few weeks ago, T and I were about halfway through the 12-hour journey back to Kentucky for Christmas when he asked me what I hoped I would be doing in five years. Not what I hoped we would be doing as a family; just me. My dreams.

The question caught me off-guard, so I made a lame excuse about how this was a year for focusing on his career and his dreams, and that we’d focus on mine later. The truth is, I’ve been hiding behind that lame excuse to avoid thinking about the real answer.

But you know what? Avoidance is exhausting and frankly, I’m ready for something new. So this year, I’m resolving to do more dreaming; to dive into the scary, unknown territory of thinking about how to go after the things I’ve always wanted to do but never actually had the guts to pursue.  I’m giving myself the freedom and permission to think and pray and journal and even talk about the things that make my heart beat faster, even if I don’t have all the answers. I’m choosing to take a step (albeit a baby step) toward living the life God has imagined for me and leveraging the talents and skills and passions He’s given me to go beyond what feels safe or ordinary.

I don’t know what will come of this dreaming, and that makes me more than a little nervous; just writing these words is making my palms sweaty. But I think that so often, we women hide behind the things that we have to do—house stuff and job stuff and family stuff—to avoid thinking about the things that we are called to do. Somewhere along the way, we’ve come to believe that dreaming about the future is a waste of our time and that if we’re not filling our lives with “busy”, we’re doing something wrong. And I just feel that maybe God is saying to us, “Stop. Put the phone down, stop running around like a crazy person and come sit with Me. Those things that really matter to you? They matter to Me, too. Let’s pursue them together.”

Maybe you need to do a little dreaming this year, too. If so, I hope you’ll find this encouraging. Let’s make 2017 a year when we say no to avoiding uncertainty so that we can say yes to exploring and dreaming about what it is we were actually created to do. Ready? Set. Go!

Until next time,

M

Where do we go from here?

To me, the world of politics has always been a fascinating one. Since high school, I have enjoyed learning about the election process and the ways in which our country is governed. In college, I took classes where I studied political theories and the psychology and motivations that drive us to make certain political decisions. I’ve watched candidate debates as if they were sporting events, rewinding and replaying crucial moments and staying up way past my bedtime to hear the post-game analysis. And to me, watching election results pour in on live television has always been riveting.

Until now. This year, things are different.

This year, my fascination has been replaced with disdain. This year, more people than ever before joined me to watch our two presidential candidates debate the issues, only to see a cheap, sorry excuse for intelligent discourse on American democracy.

This campaign season, it seems as though we, the people, have lost at every turn. We’ve lost the ability to disagree without anger and personal attacks. We’ve lost confidence in our democratic system to elect a qualified, reliable leader. And most tragically, we’ve lost sight of our own humanity. We’ve been so focused on attacking and defeating the other side that we’ve forgotten that the other side is made up of people — broken, sinful people searching for answers— just like us.

And now, it all comes down to this. All of the mudslinging and name-calling and finger-pointing have been leading up to this day. It’s a day that should feel patriotic and exciting, but for most of us, it just feels sad. We wear our “I voted” stickers with uncertainty, and we’re left wondering, somewhat fearfully and begrudgingly, “Where do we go from here?”

I would be lying if I told you that I wasn’t writing this with a knot in my stomach. Even still, I think we have a reason to take heart and feel hopeful.  In a recent article, Christian author Max Lucado had this to say about what happens next:

“I know exactly what November 9th will bring. Another day of God’s perfect sovereignty. He will still be in charge. His throne will still be occupied. He will still manage the affairs of the world. Never before has His providence depended on a king, president or ruler. And it won’t on November 9, 2016.”

Now, if that’s not the best news you’ve heard all day, I don’t know what is.

It’s likely that we’ve all heard variations of this idea throughout this election season. But most of them sound something like, “Well, if we lose this election, at least God will still be God,” as if the sovereignty of our Creator is some sort of consolation prize or something to fall back on in a worst-case scenario.

That, of course, couldn’t be further from the truth.  Our God has never been nor will He ever be a consolation prize. He is the prize. His rule is not something to fall back on when we dislike or disagree with the rulers of our nation; rather, His wisdom is perfect, and precedes and surpasses all leaders, everywhere, every time. He is the beginning, middle and end and his victory has already been decided—no election required.

So today, I’m choosing to rest in God’s perfect, unchanging sovereignty. No ifs, ands or buts…just Him.

When we wake up tomorrow morning and feel the shift in the guidance of our country, let’s choose to remember the One who hasn’t shifted. Rather than bemoaning the results or predicting our own demise, let’s choose to find joy in something far greater. Let’s finally come to the realization that scathing, malicious Facebook posts never change anyone’s mind, but only result in division and animosity.  And let’s choose instead to speak and write and type words that are grace-filled and hopeful and rooted in the desire to unify, rebuild and love.  Let’s decide that people—God’s greatest and most profound creation—are more important than opinions, and that introducing them to the Father is worth far more than introducing them to our views on American politics.

Tomorrow is a big day. It feels as if the whole world is watching and waiting with bated breath to see how we’ll respond to the news. We’re all eager to see how our friends and co-workers and social media acquaintances will react to their victory or defeat. Will the winners gloat and boast and continue to attack the opposition, even as they wear the crown? Will the losers whine and lash out like a child who’s forced to leave the toy store empty handed?  Both are likely. But there’s another option.

Tomorrow morning, win or lose, we can speak and act with uninhibited joy. Tomorrow, we can hope and trust and cast uncertainty aside.  Why? Because tomorrow, just like every other day that ever has been and ever will be, God will remain perfectly sovereign, perfectly in control and perfectly on His throne.

Friends, I love this country. I consider it one of my greatest blessings to live and work and grow here, and believe it is a great privilege to have a voice in how we as a people are governed and led. But if this campaign season and all its crazy have taught me anything, it’s that I’m far more thankful for and secure in my citizenship in heaven.  So tomorrow, I’ll strive—albeit imperfectly—to live and speak in light of that.  I hope you’ll join me.

Until next time,

M

Being Known

Last weekend, two of my dearest college friends and sorority sisters traveled South of the Bluegrass to spend a few days with T and me. It was wonderful to have them in my neck of the woods, as I was desperate for a little girl time. We spent the weekend lounging on the beach, swapping skin care recommendations and filling ourselves with delicious food, and I’m already counting down the days until I see them again when I travel to Kentucky for a wedding in a few weeks.

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So thankful for friends who visit (and for T, who so patiently put up with our girly conversations and acted as our photographer all weekend long).

Here’s the thing: I don’t think I ever really realized or understood the value of friends until we moved from Kentucky to Florida four months ago. Friendship has always been important to me, but it was never really something I had to think about or strive for; it always just was. 

That changed when T and I put a thousand miles between us and the people we love. Since June, we’ve been stretched and grown and challenged, but we’ve also felt a new sort of loneliness and homesickness that, on certain days, have been difficult to swallow.

And I know that I’m not alone in this struggle. Studies show that there’s a kind of “friendship exodus” that happens to women in their mid-twenties. It’s during this chapter of our lives when we move to new cities, get serious about careers, start families of our own and, in the midst of all that, stop prioritizing our relationships.

That’s really no surprise; all that life change makes friendship trickier than ever, and it’s easy to just press pause on the weekly dinners and the regularly scheduled chats. But our busyness doesn’t make those moments any less crucial, and I was reminded of that last weekend. You see, when we take a moment to just enjoy friendship, we allow ourselves the space to be known. We get to skip the introductions and put away our best face and just be who we are. Because friends already know our stories; they understand where we’re coming from and they’re interested in who we are becoming. They know us.

And there’s something so refreshing about that sense of being known. It softens us and re-energizes us and instills in us a confidence and a peace that makes it easier to face rough days and crazy schedules and difficult people with patience and joy. Being known feels good because it’s something we were created to desire. And when we deprive ourselves of that or put friendship on the back-burner, we miss out on the opportunity to be poured into and the chance to pour into others.

If that weren’t enough, something else happens when we invest in friends; something that goes beyond being known by those around us. Time spent feeling understood and accepted by other people points us toward the One who knows us better and more deeply than we could imagine. Real, authentic friendship helps us to see and show Jesus more clearly because it forces us to slow down and take a step back from the noise and clutter that so often distracts us from spending time with Him.

After all, the God who created us also created and advocated for friendship and community. He never intended for us to wade through the trenches of life by ourselves. So why do we, as women, so often wear independence as a badge of honor? Why do we stress ourselves out at work and at home because we’re too prideful to ask for help or phone a friend? Why do we value packed schedules and “I don’t have time” over free moments and “Let’s have coffee”? When did we start defining success by the length of our to-do lists and the number of activities we can cram into a day?

I say we put an end to the madness. Let’s stop putting pressure on ourselves to constantly be doing, and give ourselves the freedom and permission to just be known by those who love us. Let’s measure our success by who we encourage rather than what we accomplish, and create more margin in our daily routines to listen and laugh and share stories and meals together. Let’s be better friends.

They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, and I think it also brings clarity about what really matters. After four months of physical distance, I can tell you that, to me, friendship matters. And in this season of life, when it’s more difficult than it’s ever been before, I am deciding to strive to make space for cultivating and maintaining those relationships. If you’re like me, and you’re also finding friendship to be especially difficult these days, let’s do this together. Let’s reprioritize and simplify schedules and make room in our lives to pursue the gift of friendship. Let’s take advantage of opportunities to know and be known by others, all the while praying that our efforts draw us closer to the One who knew us first.

Until next time,

M

The art of the road trip

After an incredibly busy six weeks of traveling to celebrate bachelorette parties, the birth of our very first niece and more, T and I are officially considering ourselves road warriors. We’ve made multiple trips to Nashville and Lexington, and just last weekend drove north to Gainesville for an SEC football game in the Swamp. (Yes, we were present for the 45-7 smackdown the Florida Gators inflicted on our beloved Wildcats. No, we do not want to talk about it.)

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Road trip to Gainesville (clearly taken before the game, as made obvious by our big smiles and lack of sweat)

And while we’re happy to have a few weeks of calm after all the traveling, the truth is I’ve always been a fan of a good old-fashioned road trip, and they seem to mark important chapters in my life. Some of my favorite childhood memories take place in one of our family SUVs, all of us piled in and excited about being on our way to the beach or the mountains or some other fun destination. One of my best college experiences was road tripping to Charleston to spend Spring Break with 20 of my closest friends. And T and I spent a good part of 2015 driving around the country so that he could visit various residency programs.

Through all of that, I’ve learned that there’s a certain art to planning and executing a successful road trip. And our past several weeks in the car inspired me to think about the five key ingredients to enjoying the ride:

Have a plan…sort of. It’s obviously important to have some semblance of a plan for how and when you’ll get to your destination. But it’s equally important to not be so attached to an itinerary that you miss out on opportunities to make memories along the way. If you love schedules and to-do lists as much as I do, this can be especially difficult. That’s why I like to build in time to deviate from the plan, from the very beginning. I’ve never really been a “go with the flow” kind of girl, but I’ve learned that road trips are always more fun when you’re flexible enough to take the scenic route, or allow your husband to indulge in his breakfast obsession with Cracker Barrel.

So, make that schedule. Research the fastest route. Assemble that folder of all your important travel documents. But then, stash all of that hard work neatly in the back seat, roll the windows down and enjoy the journey.

Expect the unexpected. For my 16th birthday, my parents agreed to let me invite four of my best friends on our annual spring break road trip to Florida (yes, they were incredibly generous and possibly a little crazy). Like every year, we left around midnight, with a plan to drive all night and arrive at the beach around noon the next day. But on this trip, we blew out a tire sometime around 2AM, forcing my dad to pull over on I-75, unload the luggage of five teenage girls (most of whom slept peacefully through the entire debacle), and change the tire by the light of a single flashlight while semis zoomed by just inches away. Despite all of this, my dad didn’t utter a single complaint (and somehow survived a 15-hour car ride with all of our insanity).

Moral of the story: Surprises happen. Embrace them, and refuse to let them rain on your parade. After all, that flat tire incident ended up being one of the most-told stories from that entire trip, and is one of the things that made that vacation feel like an adventure.

Bring along an extra dose of grace.  A road trip is one of the best ways to learn new things about the people you think you know well. Sometimes, those things you learn will be endearing and sweet. More often, they’ll be quirky (somewhat annoying) little habits that come out only after too little sleep, too much coffee and hours of quality time.

In those moments, a little grace can go a long way. If your co-traveler loves to sing in weird voices late at night, go with it. (T performs an odd, operatic rendition of “My Old Kentucky Home” every time we cross over the Kentucky state line. In case you were wondering, he also has a song for Tennesee.) If it’s discovered that your passenger seat navigator has zero sense of direction, remain patient and laugh about the U-turns. And if you’re travel buddy requires an unreasonable number of pit stops because she accidentally downed that entire bottle of water, save her the indignity of begging and just. pull. over.

Speaking of pit stops, choose wisely. In my experience, this is an area in which men and women are fundamentally different. When in need of a pit stop, men take the first available exit and pull into the nearest gas station or rest stop, with no regard for the appearance or cleanliness of the establishment. Women, on the other hand, are actually bothered by grimy door handles and sticky floors, and seem to have some sort of sixth sense about determining which restrooms are acceptable, even from afar.

So fellas, when it comes to pit stop choices, defer to your female companions. If they ask you to drive past the station with the outdoor entrance restroom or go across the street to use the Chick-fil-a facilities, trust their instincts. Because nothing can put a damper on an otherwise successful road trip like a ladies’ room that looks (and smells) like it was last cleaned sometime in the 1980s. (Plus, Chik fil a has delicious milkshakes, so everyone wins.)

Learn to love podcasts. T and I first discovered our love of podcasts during our “Tour of the South” vacation last summer, when we spent 10 days visiting different southern cities and listened to the entire first season of Serial along the way. Since then, we’ve made sure to stock up on some of our favorites before every road trip. They’re especially helpful after you’ve exhausted every possible conversation topic, and are the perfect cure for interstate boredom. Podcasts we love: This American Life, Southland Weekend Messages, Kentucky Sports Radio, Invisibilia, Pursuing Health and my newest favorite that would be perfect for a girls’ trip: The Megan and Rachel Show.

In the end, I think we all fall victim of taking ourselves and our plans too seriously from time to time, and road trips always seem to serve as the perfect reminder to let go and step away from normal life. So, cheers to keeping the tradition of the road trip alive, and to enjoying the journey and whatever it brings!

Until next time,

M

 

Back to school

Yesterday was the first day of school for all the kiddos back in our hometown, and my Facebook newsfeed overflowed with sweet (mostly smiling) faces, full backpacks, and mommas who simultaneously expressed sadness that their babies were growing up too quickly and utter joy that the summer crazy was finally coming to an end.

T and I aren’t parents yet, so we can’t quite relate to the frenzy and emotions associated with sending kids back to the classroom.  But every time the first day of school rolls around, I’m reminded of my experiences as a student embarking on a brand new year.

With the exception of kindergarten (when my first-day sobs likely tortured my mother for days), I always loved what it meant to start another year of school; the freshly-sharpened pencils and crisp new pocket folders, the promise of new friendships and experiences and discoveries. Each new grade was uncharted water in its own way, complete with a familiar foreignness and the chance to start fresh.

 

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First day of school, circa 1998

 

Looking back on my school days, moments and years stand out as life-defining. It was in second grade that I first discovered my love for writing and storytelling. It was fourth grade where I found my voice via the annual 4-H speech competition, seventh grade when I stepped out of my comfort zone with the decision to join middle school chorus, and 10th grade when I officially became T’s girlfriend. In my mind, these moments are attached to the classrooms in which they took place and the teachers and classmates who were there to see them happen.

For me, that’s the beauty of school; each new year helps define and mark our young lives and gives us the opportunity to redefine who we are, what we’ll do and how others will know us.

Over time, we lose sight of the power of starting anew, and the freedom that comes with allowing ourselves to learn and absorb and be transformed into something different. But over the last couple of months, God has been reminding me of the beauty in the back to school seasons of our lives–the times when we’re thrown into a brand new chapter and expected to navigate unknown territory. Those seasons are certain to bring challenges and loneliness and awkwardness, but they also bring us closer to the One who is the ultimate teacher and giver of wisdom. And thanks to His grace, we can choose to start fresh whenever we want, and not be defined by the mistakes from our past (like that year in middle school when we thought neon braces paired with bright blonde highlights was a good idea…).

So, here’s to a new school year, filled with excitement and surprises and growth. To the teachers who are back to the classrooms this week, know that we’re rooting for you. Your jobs are big and important and harder than most of us could ever imagine, and it always amazes me that, in the daily struggle of wrangling and disciplining, you still find a way to motivate and inspire.

To the mommas who are back to serving as alarm clocks and lunch makers, I admire you. And if, by chance, your student is not of the morning person variety and begs for “just five more minutes” when you try to pull her out of bed, you have my prayers. I, too, was a fan of those four little words and I can promise that someday, said student will feel foolish and ridiculous for forcing you to endure such torment and believing that five minutes actually made a difference. (Sorry, mom!)

Until next time,

M

 

Seasons of refreshing

Have you ever read something—an insignificant line in a book or a verse you’ve read a million times before—that, for some reason, just took up residence in your mind and refused to leave? That happened to me recently.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been working my way through She Reads Truth’s study of Acts. Side note: If you’re unfamiliar with She Reads Truthyou should get to know them. They create beautiful, scripture-based studies that are tailor-made for women. Anyway, I was reading through the third chapter of Acts one morning when one, unassuming verse—a verse that I’ve skipped over in the past—made me pause, and it’s been on my mind ever since:

“Therefore repent and turn back, so that your sins may be wiped out, that seasons of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.”Acts 3:19

I just love the phrase “seasons of refreshing.” I want that, don’t you?

Here’s the thing: I know that, like this verse mentions, my mind and soul can be refreshed only when I come humbly to the cross and leave all of my mess and junk and clutter at the feet of Jesus. In order to enter into a time of being refueled and rejuvenated by the Holy Spirit, I need to let go of sinful distractions so that I’m able to enter into the “presence of the Lord.”

The problem? I am not always a let it go kind of girl. And even when I am bold enough to lay down my worries, fears, pride, and shame, I so often return to pick them right back up again. As a result, my seasons of refreshing are short-lived, interrupted by my own selfishness and unbelief.

"Therefore repent and turn back, so that your sins may be wiped out, that seasons of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord." -Acts 3:19Thankfully, Jesus loves me anyway. He’s constantly and patiently calling me back to Him, reminding me to let go and be refreshed, to lay something down so that I can pick up something far, far greater. Because when my fists are clenched around my own sin and insecurity, I don’t have the capacity to grasp onto the arms full of grace and love and freedom that Jesus is so ready to give.

In meditating and praying about this verse and these thoughts, the Lord has been teaching me that my desire to hold onto things that are keeping me from Him isn’t just impacting me. It’s also coloring how I see and interact with those around me. Because the thing I’m holding onto—be it grace or shame—is the very thing I’m able to give out to others. I want to give grace, so I need to first grab hold of it. I want to refresh and inspire others, but I can only do that if I’m resting in the presence of the One who created me, and allowing Him to refresh me first.

So often, when the Holy Spirit nudges me to lay something down, my first response is to grow defensive and tighten my grip. It feels unnatural for me to relinquish control and simply let go. So, I’m practicing. I’m practicing the act of coming to the Lord with unclenched fists and allowing Him to take and give as He sees fit. It still feels a bit foreign and uncomfortable at times. But when I’m tempted to hold onto selfishness, or pick up that worry that I laid down last week, I remind myself of the alternative: seasons of refreshing in the very presence of the Lord. And you know what? That option wins every single time.

Until next time,

M